City council receives economic development report from consultant
by Coy Slavik, Advance-Guard Editor
May 09, 2013 | 1046 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
GOLIAD – Gateway Planning Group representative Brad Lonberger presented an economic development report to city council in a workshop session during Tuesday night's city meeting.

Lonberger and others from Gateway Planning visited Goliad in the fall to study ways the city could attract more tourism and utilize land to create more affordable housing.

"The No. 1 opportunity is the Eagle Ford Shale," Lonberger said. "It's on the minds of everybody. Trucks are everywhere. A lot of things are happening and bringing in new investors. All municipalities have this on their minds. There's an influx of workers and many retail stores can't hire people because nobody will work for them because they're all going to work for the gas play. How does Goliad invest today in projects that will last the long-term?"

Lonberger said Goliad could improve the infrastructure to attract more tourism dollars.

"The secondary key opportunity is linking you history, your tourism and your neighborhoods in a meaningful way," Lonberger said. "Using the places you have as you have done with your Market Days, the presidio and everything else. Use those to move forward. Instead of people being bused in to check out the presidio, why not try to provide them an opportunity to stay and linger longer? That allows more tax dollars to be generated in your restaurants and stores.

"One way to do that would be to create walk/bike links to the different sites to your historic square. You already have a trail system, but there are key elements that can be improved and connected to even allow connection to the high school."

Lonberger said there is sufficient vacant land in the city that can be developed to generate more value.

"Currently, there's 289 acres out of your 792 acres of area that can be developed on that's either vacant or underutilized," Lonberger said. "It's land within your city limits and generating lower value than something with improvements on it would. That's 36 percent of your total city area."

Lonberger said some of the vacant land could be used to address the housing shortage in Goliad.

"A lot of your educators, city staff were not or are not able to live within the city limits," Lonberger said. "Rents were going up here seven months ago when we were here and I'm sure it's worse. A lot of these parcels can be utilized through public-private partnerships with the city working with landowners to figure out ways to actually add housing that's in the community to create a stable tax base and bring people that can connect to all your wonderful amenities that you have in the city."

Lonberger said Goliad needs to find ways to keep tourists in the city longer.

"The best way to do that is not add in bulk with more Best Westerns but to add more boutique hotels," Lonberger said. "There is vacant land really close to the historic square. It's not a high investment for someone in this area. This area has a lot of wealthy folks who like to invest in properties and relocate homes to make them bed and breakfasts."

Lonberger suggested the city look into developing a lodging facility near the San Antonio River using private and public funds.

"San Antonio is the only other city that has the San Antonio River running through its downtown," Lonberger said. "So it's something to be embraced. What's interesting about this city, though, is there is no connection to the river itself from downtown. You can disc golf, but there really isn't anywhere to hang out and have a restaurant or lodging."

Goliad Mayor Jay Harvey said the city's biggest challenge is getting investors to jump on board.

"One issue we have is getting developers to come," Harvey said. "How do you get people to come here and invest in the community who have the money to be able to build a lodge on the river?"

"You have to find the right person that the city is comfortable with teaming up with," Lonberger said. "There are ways to attract folks, but it's not relying on them to find you. You have to go out and find them."
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